Who knew that a tattoo could lead to such an embarrassing gaffe?
That was the case during the Oscars on Sunday, when a beauty website attempted to pay a compliment — and it went terribly wrong.
In a tweet commenting on celebrity red carpet looks, Total Beauty confused comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg, 60, with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, 62.
Total Beauty, a Los Angeles-based company that posts fitness tips, tweeted a picture of Goldberg on the red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards, her tattooed shoulder on display, along with the caption “We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it.”
In a year in which Hollywood’s treatment of racial issues has been in the spotlight, social media reaction to the blunder — confusing two powerful African-American women in the media — was swift and merciless.
The tweet was swiftly deleted, but not before critics had had their say.
“have you even seen a black person before?” asked one Twitter user.
“You could not have picked a worse year for a gaffe like this one. #OscarsSoWhite,” tweeted Steven Nelson, professor of African and African-American art history at UCLA, referring to the diversity controversy that preceded the ceremony.
Total Beauty later tweeted, “We’d like to apologize to Oprah and Whoopi, as well as everyone we’ve offended. It was our error, and there are no excuses.”
It subsequently tweeted it would use the mistake as an opportunity to donate $10,000 to a charity of Goldberg and Winfrey’s choice.
What did Winfrey make of the embarrassing mixup?
Her best friend and CBS “This Morning” co-host Gayle King took to Instagram, showing Winfrey looking puzzled while holding a cell phone with Goldberg’s picture.
The caption read: “@Oprah & favorite daughter watching #Oscars & seeing @totalbeauty snafu! We all love @whoopigoldberg but we don’t all look alike Jeeeze!”
Goldberg told her “The View” co-hosts Monday that “it was an honest mistake” and the charitable donation would not be necessary.
“I feel pretty good if you’re comparing me to Oprah. Saying I look like Oprah, that’s not a bad thing,” she said. “It could have been a lot worse.”